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Slow down and grow up

My increased awareness of “shoulds” in my life has made for an interesting week. I’ve caught on to a lot of judgment just by keeping an eye out for that one particular word, and it’s been a challenge to allow for what IS, as opposed to what I think SHOULD be.

I was expressing some frustration yesterday, and I danced around using the “S” word in my email to a mentor: “I realize that by now I could (should?) have achieved a greater measure of success, but…”

I give myself credit for questioning the “should” and sticking it in parentheticals, but I wish I hadn’t felt compelled to type it at all. Because not only is there nothing the slightest bit wrong with where I am, it’s possible that I’m exactly where I ought to be. A change may not even be necessary.

But what if it is?

I feel like I’m constantly seeking a measure of balance–how much action to take, how much stillness to settle into. This applies on a basic physical level–go to yoga or sit on the couch?–but it also affects my philosophical mindset. Is it okay for me to sit back and be content, or do I need to lean in more?

The answers shift depending on why and when I’m asking, but in general, feedback indicates I’m making progress and doing well. I can surely use a little push here and there, but since I tend to expect too much of myself (even if it feels like I’m hardly asking enough), I am trying to be more appreciative of where I am and all I’ve accomplished. Last night I had a realization that helped:

I deserve the same compassion I give to children.

I would never ask a child to grow up fast, both because children deserve their childhoods and also because children physically cannot speed up their growth. Can you imagine, being annoyed with a kid for not having lost all her baby teeth, or not having yet reached puberty? Some things aren’t meant to be meddled with: We grow at our own pace and a good deal of the process is out of our control.

And just as I would not chastise a child for needing time to develop vital life skills, I do myself no favors by rushing my adult self to graduate to the next level of my journey, whatever that may be. For all I know there might not even be a “next level.” Though I struggle to believe, the truth is that there is no prize at stake, no brass ring to swing for. This, now, is it, and it is wonderful, and I really want to remember that.

Slow down and grow up—what a relief to realize I can do both.

One Response to Slow down and grow up

  1. Rachel F November 2, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    I love this post. Self acceptance is one of the hardest things to achieve. The grass is always greener, etc. Sounds like you’re starting to get the hang of it, and that makes me happy–and jealous.

Love > fear